Fighting Spirit Award

“If it will be down to hand-to-hand combat, why not?”

–AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. on the defense of the Kalayaan Island Group


Meaning no disrespect to the Filipino soldier, probably among the hardiest and fiercest warriors that any fighting force in the world can muster, but this will never happen.


We’re not even talking about the impossible logistics of arranging a brawl with Chinese soldiers on islands that are closer to being reefs than actual land masses. Just finding someone to referee it would be a pain, and then there’d be the question of rules: will it be a square-off between an equal number of combatants, a large-scale version of the classic high school 10 Seconds? Will punches to the face be allowed? What about low blows?


These are just details, and do not really matter in the face of the fact that we Filipinos do not have a warrior culture. Sure, we’re effective, even fearsome fighters judging from the abundance of Weapons of Moroland plaques and the variety of weapons our warriors have wielded from the kris to the kampilan to the korambit to the sansibar to the pillbox to the lead pipe.


The head hunters of the mountains to the North were feared by colonists and settlers. Our Sulu pirates terrorized shipping along the straits of Basilan for centuries. Our hot Malay blood is quick to anger and demand blood for the slightest, sometimes imagined, insult, but it is not in our genetic code to wish that the Emperor reign ten thousand years, and then charge pell-mell to certain death. It is not even in our genetic code to have an Emperor or any other infallible despot whose word is the law.


Decisive set-piece battles are not in the Filipino subconscious. When we say patay kung patay, we mean our willingness to kill, not to die. Aguinaldo went into talks with Spain barely a year into the 1896 Revolution, fleeing to Hong Kong when no decisive military solution seemed possible. He returned, of course, to wage war again and to carry the fight to our new masters, the Americans. He then surrendered again, as did every other revolutionary with the possible exception of Artemio Ricarte who refused to pledge allegiance to America.


The defense of the Philippines collapsed within five months despite the presence of the admittedly ill-equipped USAFFE. Soon after, a puppet government was formed and positions were filled by collaborators. Artemio Ricarte, our hero who refused to pledge to the American flag promptly bowed to the Japanese one, helping found the KALIBAPI, the Japanese-sponsored political party that remained unopposed throughout the war years. When the war ended, most collaborators were pardoned since they were badly needed to get our war-torn country running again. And why not? We are masters of the long view, after all.


The long view does not favor massive forces annihilating each other, does not see the quixotic and bloody defense of one’s homeland as a virtue. Massacres and burning down villages in long campaigns of attrition will do nobody any good. Much better to catipulate now, or pretend to, at any rate, and resort to guerilla everything later. Sure, we’ll sing our heavily-accented Star-Spangled Banner and bow to you all you want, but the moment you turn your back, we’ll raid your armories, attack you while you breakfast, ambush your supply trains, pee on your walls, spit in public, flood you with illegal immigrants, etc.


Some may refuse to surrender, swear death before dishonor, but there will always be someone higher up who, thinking in the long term, will willingly turn over our territory. In the interest of the people’s safety and for regional stability, no doubt. And this is why if push comes to shove, we’ll lose the Kalayaan Island Group. We do not have the hive-mind of our neighbors, the ethnocentric certainty that conquest is their right, the conviction that they would rather fall first before their country does.


Sure, we’ll fight for our country, but we won’t be able to defend it.


  1. Helo ! Forgiv my spelling.

    I like your blog. How can I contribute ? I was there from 1960
    till 1991. I was born there stups. I migrated to the US broken hearted.I briefly served in the Aquino Admin. after our people
    power.I was an activist or parliamentarian of the street.Three attempts on my life because of my big mouth and golden heart.
    I carried a .45 caliber and a bible.I am not a priest but thought
    about it.Forget it, I changed my mind.
    I write and continue to write…I aspire to be like \"Mart Twin\" I meant Mark Twain. I just \"gut\" laid off. Eco(no)mic crisis in the US.Donot copy some of my original words, they are copyrighted by
    Smith and Wesson and Glock.Not a threat it is illeg(s)al. Just kidding.
    I am in love with you guys/gals.Can I take anyone to Unoo for a cup
    beer and pandesal ?
    Now seriously speaking, I started reading when
    I was four.I was gifted+ we are quite rich.One of my favorite magazines is the Philippine was the Free Press by T. Locsin . My rich dad sent me to a public school to learn humility
    and poverty.I did not failed dad.Not only I learned, I became one of the poor masses after graduating from college.I taught briefly in college then proceeded to one of the private law schools in the PI.
    Did well but I was not happy. I left law school and worked as a community worker for almost four years, living/immersing with the poorest among the poor Pilipinos.Forgive my english and grammar. I refused to be colonized thru the educational system
    introduce by Uncle Sam via the Thomasites. Veneration without
    understanding taught me a lot and working with the toiling masses
    encouraged and strengthened my character.
    The Philippine problems are complicated,complex and difficult
    but not impossible.Look deeper into the socialeconomicpolitical
    structure of the Philippine society. Who are the leaders,movers and
    shakers of PI politics ? Rich indios and their multinational sponsors
    lead by USA, Japan and the European Union. The Catholic Church
    in the Philippines is divided into two camps- For the poor and for the
    rich.The Church has a big/decisive role to play who gets elected president of the Philippines.That is part of our complex challenges.
    Some people if not many use Jesus as a front to exploit the toiling
    masses of Pilipinos.There is nothing wrong in believing Jesus because he was a freedom fighter- that is why he was crucified.
    He used his power and intelligence to change things unlike today
    CHE G. and his admirer use guns etc. to win the war against oppression etc.
    Till next time if you alow me to write.I like to brag.I not only
    know a lot but lived with those experiences that became common

    More Power to your blog.!!!!

    Jose R. Bonifacio

  2. The Philippines and its military

    I have a lot of acquintances and friends who became graduates

    of the PMA in the Philippines. Many of them were very smart

    and physically able (fit). Many of them are good soldiers but

    caught in the complex world of militics (militarypolitics) and

    traditional politicians of the Philippines. Some of them left the

    military and migrated (like me) to the USA, the land of the free

    kuno. I was not a PMA material because I was skinny and not very

    smart. I went to the ROTC instead- hoping to serve in the military.

    While in the ROTC I discovered how \"corrupted\" was the military

    establishment. I was very disappointed and after my second year

    in advance ROTC, I left. I did not join the NPA. Instead I utilized my

    connections and relatives to get a mission order (for me ) to carry a

    firearm. I have more power than some of the generals etc. because

    we have $$$$$$$. I did not lost my respect to law and order. I tried

    to report corruption in the govt. and military.They never knew.

    That was after Marcos. No solid actions against corruptions.

    Corruptions in our govt. and our military became a cultural

    norm. I went to visit the Philippine in 2007. I almost got robbed

    at the Ninoy International Airport by robbers in undercover

    uniform. I look stupid, harmless and powerless. But through

    my powerful friends and connections…I am semi-untouchable.

    I have the opportunity to move around securely (with .45 and a

    police escort etc.)

    We have great and honorable military leaders in the likes of Andres

    Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Marcelo H. del Pilar ( I personnally

    and have the privileged to help his great grandson who also became

    a great and honorable military leader.)

    Corruption in the military and police is not only limited to the

    Philippines. It is happening in the USA. Remember Col. North ?

    AMES of the CIA and Hansen of the FBI ? And many other stories.

    Donot lose hope.There are more good people in the police and

    military. They just needed support politically and economically.

    More power !!!!!

    Jose R. Bonifacio

  3. Erratum:

    My memory is not perfect.

    What I meant was General Gregorio del Pilar, the hero of Tirad Pass

    A great military leader. Not Marcelo H. del Pilar.

    So sorry.

    Jose R. Bonifacio

  4. Hello, Jose! You seem to have seen and gone through a lot, and we would love to have you write with us. We’re trying to be a humor/pop culture/politics blog, but what with the Christmas rush (and general indolence) we’re at the moment struggling to be a blog.

    Please email, and let’s talk.

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